This week Jesus shares a challenging parable. The parable of the shrewd manager. A man’s dishonesty has been discover and sets up a number of dodgy deals with his master’s clients. Jesus then invites the disciples to reflect about who their true master is – the world or God. How does who we are and what we have impact the communities that God has placed us in – where we live, where we work, where we worship. We can easily separate the sacred from the secular.
Call to worship
Why have we come together?
We’ve come to worship God.
What can we give to God?
All that we say and do; all that we are.
What does God want from us?
To love as God loves us.
How can we show that love?
By seeking justice and peace.
A gathering prayer
Holy God, as we meet together,
help us to be aware of your presence.
Create in us a desire to build your kingdom,
so that, as we listen to your word and sing your praises,
we will understand how to be your people
wherever you have placed us.
A prayer of adoration
From sunrise to sunset,
from East to West,
from earth to heaven,
your name is worthy to be praised,
your glory shines above all things.
We worship and adore you, our wonderful God.
A prayer of confession
Lord, we regret the times we have been unwise or short-sighted,
when we have not thought through the impact of our actions.
Give us the ability to make adjustments to our lives,
to build each other up,
and to invest ourselves in ways that are beneficial to all.
Help us when we get confused,
when things aren’t black and white,
when we injure others and ourselves –
whether deliberately or accidentally;
forgive us, restore us and help us
to repair what has been broken.
Assurance of forgiveness
God, you turn your face from our wrongdoing,
but you do not turn away from us.
Every time we come to you,
acknowledging our woundedness and folly,
you bring us back;
you see the person you made us to be
and wipe the slate clean again.
There is no residue left behind,
no mark on our record that you cannot erase.
You embrace us unconditionally,
and turn our brokenness to beauty.
Thank you, all-forgiving God.
Restore us to you and to your community.
A prayer of praise and thanksgiving
Wise and wonderful maker,
thank you for all that you provide.
Thank you for the blessings you bring us – big and small.
Open our eyes to see all your acts of goodness
and to recognise what resources we have.
Thank you that, with your help,
great things can be achieved
and that we can be part of bringing beauty
to the world around us.
Bible Reading: Luke 16:1-13
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “‘Nine hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Our reading today shows Jesus teaching his disciples while the Pharisees listened on, not the crowds as mentioned in the previous chapter. Jesus tells the story of how a steward was cheating his boss (the rich man) and wasting his goods and calls him to account. The steward knew that his poor management would be exposed. So the steward made friends with the master’s debtors and settled their accounts for less than they owed. The master didn’t approve of his conduct, but did approve of his shrewdness. This parable teaches us that we will all be called to account for our life and that we should take it seriously like the steward and discover joy as we go about our Master’s business. Jesus reminds us that we should use our present resources to plan ahead for eternity.
In the same way, all of us will stand before God and give an account of our stewardship – our time, our talents, our substance and our influence.
During the time of Jesus, the religious people treated only certain things as holy and everything else made you ‘unclean’. Jesus showed a different way – he ate with sinners, didn’t discriminate and taught about it in the parables we read. We are challenged to consider not what something is but how we use it. How do we use the ordinary and everyday things of life? How do we portray the love of God with all that we have including our money? How are we trusted with the things of God? How do we show the love of God in the rest of our life: our family, our friendship circles, our workplace, the street where we live, the church we attend and the community in which it sits?
Questions to ponder: Where does Jesus want you to be in your community? How can you help your local church to show the transformative love to its locality? How do you take the love of God into your workplace and the things you do every day?
Prayers of Intercession
As our nation remembers Queen Elizabeth II, we call to mind her role in the services and we pray for all those in our own country and overseas who serve in the military and all those whose lives are shattered by the war which is going on around them. We hold before you the leaders and people of Ukraine and pray for peace in that troubled land.
As the nation recalls the faithful service of Queen Elizabeth II, we call to mind her compassion and we give thanks for the hundreds of charities to which she was connected. We pray for them and those whom they seek to serve. We commend to you the people of Pakistan as they seek to rebuild their lives after the devastating flood and all the various aid agencies working there.
As the nation grieves the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we pray for her family who mourn a mother and grandmother and we remember all those who at this time are saddened as a result of the passing of a loved one those who have suffered a recent bereavement, those for who it is a time of anniversary and those for whom the pain is constant. May they know your comfort and peace.
As we prepare to celebrate the life of Queen Elizabeth II and commend her to your eternal care, we pray for our nation that as we have been united by grief, we may be united by commitment to serve one another. Bless King Charles III and the Queen Consort, give them strength and wisdom that above all things they may serve you in the roles to which you have called them.
Loving God as we remember your faithful servant, Queen Elizabeth II, we thank you for her faith and for the wisdom and strength with which you blessed her. Bless us and all your children that we may follow her example, live in peace and unity and serve each other’s needs.
In the name of Jesus.
Sending out prayer
We want to be the body of Christ,
longing to bless the world with love,
and transforming society, here and now.
Holy Spirit, we offer you
all that we are, all that we do.
Take us, and our gifts and talents,
and help us be signs of your kingdom today.
Prayers and ideas from © rootsontheweb